In this time-lapse video, set for Outfit’s ‘Memphis’ rises in blink of eye

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Travis Smith and Naima Carter Russell (with Skyler Brown on piano) co-star in "Memphis" at Aurora Theatre. The co-production with Theatrical Outfit opens tonight at the Rialto Center in downtown Atlanta. CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS BARTELSKI



After a successful Aurora Theatre run, co-production partner Theatrical Outfit launches its staging of the Tony Award-winning musical “Memphis” on Sept. 10 at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

The set was struck at the end of August in Lawrenceville and then reconstructed the first week of September in downtown Atlanta at the Rialto, Theatrical Outfit’s larger-capacity neighbor.

Crews from both companies worked on the build, as captured in this cool time-lapse video.

The 1950s-set show from Joe DiPietro and David Bryan follows a white DJ who falls for R&B music and a magnetic black singer who’s chasing stardom.

In his AJC review, critic Bert Osborne wrote that leading man Travis Smith “simultaneously anchors and buoys the production as Huey Calhoun, the wholly endearing ‘redneck’ who defiantly rebels against the outdated social conventions of the day.”

There is some Atlanta theater star power backstage as well: Theatrical Outfit Artistic Director Tom Key directs; the musical director is Ann-Carol Pence, Aurora’s co-founder and associate producer; and Waverly Lucas, Ballethnic Dance Company co-founder, is choreographer.

In a dialogue among the three leaders on Theatrical Outfit’s website, Key explains the benefit of partnering for the large production: “What we’re doing on one level is we’re seeking to achieve to do something together that we can’t on our own,” he said. “I think that we’re just maximizing our resources to make this a stronger production.”

To which Lucas adds: “I think what having co-productions allows is greater use of resources. What I mean by resources, I don’t just mean financial resources, but overall intellectual resources.”

The co-production scored 13 nods in the recently announced Suzi Bass Award nominations (Atlanta’s version of the Tony’s), the most of any single show. The 11th Annual Suzi Awards Ceremony will be held Nov. 2 at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center in DeKalb County.

Theatrical Outfit’s run of “Memphis” will continue through Sept. 20. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. $20-$50. Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. N.W., Atlanta. 678-528-1500, www.theatricaloutfit.org.


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